Posts tagged ‘water’

Coconut Water Is Not a Health Drink

Coconut water is a trending drink in the United States. Two common health claims are that coconut water is more hydrating than sports drinks and that it contains large amounts of potassium (which isn’t especially helpful to athletes—more on that later!). Modern research is beginning to prove otherwise, however, and it turns out that coconut water is basically just sweetened water.

Coconut water is the liquid found inside of coconuts and should not be confused with coconut milk, which is derived from the fleshy fruit. The drink was traditionally popular in tropical countries such as Thailand but the United States quickly adopted the drink as a health food. Over the past few years, coconut water sales have skyrocketed in Western countries. This sudden surge in popularity has led to some pretty outrageous health claims. (more…)

November 6, 2017 at 11:00 am 2 comments

“Raisin Fingers” May Be an Evolutionary Advantage

By Kyle Kurpinski

If you have ever gone swimming for several hours or taken a really long bath, then you are probably familiar with the phenomenon referred to as “pruney fingers” or “raisin fingers.” A common explanation for this wrinkling of the hands (and feet) is that the skin absorbs excess water when submerged, which causes it to expand. This expansion increases the surface area of the skin, thereby resulting in wrinkles. So while these pruney fingertips may have the appearance of being shrunken or shriveled, they are actually larger than they were when dry. It has been suggested that fingers and toes are more susceptible to this effect than other areas of the body due at least in part to a lack of hair follicles, which produce sebum – an oily secreted substance that may act as a temporary protective barrier against water absorption.

But water uptake is only part of the story. As early as the 1930s, scientists noted that patients with palsy-related nerve damage in their hands showed no signs of water-induced wrinkling in the areas specifically affected by the impaired nerves. This insight suggested that the nervous system is actively involved in the wrinkling process, and additional research has shown that vasoconstriction – narrowing of the blood vessels – plays a role as well. A modern view of raisin fingers goes something like this: prolonged immersion leads to excess water uptake by the skin; the resulting electrolyte imbalance causes neurons to fire more rapidly, which causes blood vessels to constrict, thereby reducing blood flow underneath the skin and leading to a decrease in skin tension, thus causing wrinkling. This process is clearly more complicated than simple water-induced swelling, which is probably why most people have never heard about it. The complete physiological mechanism of action is likely a combination of water-induced swelling and vasoconstriction.

But none of this explains why fingers that look like little dried fruits should be a part of our biology in the first place. A new theory (put forth in a recent article in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution) proposes that wrinkles on the fingers and toes may actually act as miniature drainage channels to displace water and increase grip in wet conditions, similar to the rain treads on the tires of a car. In other words, when your fingers and toes get really wet, they wrinkle up to counteract the slickness of the water. Additional work still needs to be done for the theory to become more widely accepted, but it appears that the raisiny morphology may be an evolutionary adaptation for life in slippery environments.

As a professional bioengineer I feel inclined to run my own experiments, but I’m still waiting for my hot tub/climbing wall grant to go through.

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Sources: Amazing Health Trivia, WonderQuest, Wikipedia, Nature, 1Mark Changizi, et al

Image: Brian Zambrano (cc)

December 28, 2011 at 2:00 am 11 comments

The Meaning of Care Symbols on Clothes Tags

By Kaye Nemec

When it’s time to wash a new item of clothing, most people check the tag to see what the manufacturer recommends for washing and drying.

Sometimes instructions are easily spelled out, other times the consumer is given a set of symbols to interpret. With no explanation or key to reference, there is no way to know what these symbols mean. Before you take a gamble with your clothing purchases, use the chart below as a reference guide for the most common symbols. For an extensive list of care symbols visit Textileaffairs.com.

  Machine Wash Normal
  Machine Wash Cold
  Machine Wash Warm
  Hand Wash
  Do Not Wash
  Do Not Bleach
  Tumble Dry Normal
  Do Not Dry
  Iron Normal
  Do Not Iron
  Dry Clean
  Do Not Dry Clean

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Sources: Textile Affairs

April 27, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Watering Hard to Reach Plants

I did an interview with the BBC a few weeks ago and I was on the show with Caroline Bloor, head of consumer testing at Good Housekeeping. I shared a few secrets with the audience and she shared a few secrets too, including how to water hard to reach plants.

If you’ve got hanging plants or otherwise hard-to-reach botanicals, you’ve probably overshot the pot with the watering can.

Instead, trying putting ice cubes in the pot. They’ll melt slowly and water the plant. They’re much easier to water with and if you drop one, it’s much easier to clean up than its thawed relative.

Thanks for sharing this secret, Caroline.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Photo: ell brown (cc)

May 7, 2010 at 12:14 am 1 comment

Rotten Eggs Float

Whether you throw away the carton and use the egg holder in your fridge or you just don’t believe the expiry date, there will come a time when you question the edibility of eggs.

There is an easy way to test them.

Fill a container with water and gently place the egg inside it. If it sinks, it’s good to eat. If it floats, throw it out. If it weighs the same as a duck, it’s a witch.

Why?

Eggs naturally have a small air pocket in them. In fact, a bright light is used during a process called candling to determine the size of this air cell. The size of the air cell is used to determine the grade of an egg. Grade AA eggs have the smallest air cell, and as the air cell gets large the egg is given a lower grade (A, B…etc).

This air cell increases as the egg ages. There are two schools of thought about why. Some say the eggshell is porous and allows some liquid to escape and air to enter. Others say a chemical reaction takes place inside, which results in the larger air chamber and the awful smell when they are rotten. I couldn’t find a definitive answer to why the air cell increases in size, but nobody disputed the fact that it does.

Because the air cell increases, it makes the egg less dense, meaning it will float in water with enough time.

The smell of rotten eggs is a popular description for the smell of sulfur. There’s good reason for that, eggs contain a fair amount of sulfur because it is necessary for feather formation. This smell becomes more prevalent as eggs age.

Thanks to my wife Kristen for this secret.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Source: Eggs WP, Sulfur WP, What’s Cooking America, O Chef

May 6, 2010 at 12:15 am 1 comment

Save Your Wet Electronics by Sticking Them in Rice

Simply put, when you make rice, you take 1 cup of rice and pour at least a cup and a half of water into it. Then you put it on the stove for a while and when you’re done, there’s no more water — it’s in the rice!

The point is, rice is really good at absorbing water.

So if you drop your cell phone in a bucket of water, toilet or swimming pool: get it quickly; turn it off; dry it and immediately put it into a bag of uncooked rice.

If you can access the battery, you should take it out too since some devices, especially cell phones, are still consuming power on standby, even when they appear to be off.

If you’ve got a wet vacuum, like a shop-vac, you should use it to suck some of the water out. A friend of mine (you know who you are) spilled water on my laptop keyboard once. I flipped the laptop upside down immediately, turned it off and pulled out the battery. It set it down and ran to get the shop-vac. While keeping it upside-down, I sucked all the water out of the keyboard. (more…)

March 24, 2010 at 12:01 am 2 comments

Australian Toilets Do Not Flush in the Opposite Direction

Despite what you may believe, being in the secret business is not glamorous. Nothing in school prepares you for this many late afternoons, drinking whipped cream topped drinks at Starbucks.

Actually, college did prepare me for that, but it’s still not glamorous. Take my word for it. Just the other day I was sitting by the pool thinking, “what am I going to write about for tomorrow?” I couldn’t come up with anything at all.

For inspiration, I moved to the hot tub — maybe some bubbles would help. You wouldn’t believe it, I still couldn’t come up with an idea! It usually comes naturally and the hardest part of my day is answering repetitive questions like, “what is it like to be such a handsome and successful blogger?”

I’m kidding of course, except about the lack of glamor, not that you really expected it to be glamorous anyway. The truth is, I don’t sit by any pool or hot tub and I rarely drink whipped cream topped drinks at Starbucks. I work a normal day job and write this blog at night.

It’s probably a lot more work than you may realize; even before I start writing I spend a lot of time digging for ideas and accurate sources to come up with something I think you’ll find interesting, and sometimes really helpful. The most common real question I get is, “where do you get all of your ideas?” There are two main sources. (more…)

March 19, 2010 at 12:57 am 7 comments

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